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Padel Anyone? Isleworth Golf and Country Club’s Innovative Racquet Programming Is Way Ahead of the Game

Like the meteoric trajectory of its cousin, pickleball, padel is on the cusp of exploding nationwide; Isleworth Golf and Country Club has championed the sport for 20+ years.

The stomping grounds of prestigious international business leaders, wildly successful entrepreneurs and world-class athletes, the exclusive Isleworth Golf and Country Club, located among Central Florida’s Butler Chain of Lakes in Windermere, Fla., delivers a first-class experience to discern- ing guests in one of the most prestigious private golf communities in the world. From its inspired architecture to its curated culinary offerings, its iconic golf course to its art installations, its extraordinary hospitality to its rich array of amenities, Isleworth’s culture is the embodiment of “exclusivity driven by mutual respect and informal elegance.” Privately owned by the Tavistock Group, Isleworth is known for setting a standard in club excellence and is consistently ranked in the top 30 Platinum Clubs of the World.

Set amid the club’s 600 rolling acres, dotted with grand cypress and oak trees, surrounded by freshwater lakes and an exceedingly lush landscape is Isleworth’s 18-hole champion- ship golf course. Originally designed by Arnold Palmer, home to the Tavistock Cup, previous host of the PGA Tour’s Hero World Challenge, 18 years of hosting the premier collegiate golf tournament in the country, and site of historic matches including Tiger’s lowest round of all-time, it’s no surprise that when people think of Isleworth, they think of golf. However, the club’s intentional strategy to shore up and expand non-golf amenities in the last decade has ensured that its international

membership enjoys an abundance of sporting, leisure and social programming to satisfy family members of all ages. Isleworth enjoys many singular distinctions, not the least of which is being one of the first clubs in the U.S. to install a padel court and introduce the sport to its members.

With a state-of-the-art fitness center and a variety of classes and personal training offerings; a spa; a resort-style infinity pool with a splash pad for the kids; seven miles of shoreline with all manner of lake activities such as boating, paddle boarding, waterskiing and fishing; and a tennis center with six Har-Tru clay courts, one Plexicushion court, one red clay, a padel court, a multi-sport court/pickleball court, and private locker rooms, Isleworth provides stellar facilities to its membership.


“We have always prided ourselves on a focus on innovation in facilities, programming, and events. Members are proud to be one of the first U.S. country clubs to introduce and support padel as a sport. The credit for that goes to Tavistock principal Joe Lewis, a long-time padel champion and ambas- sador of the sport and a pioneer in the private club industry, who introduced padel to Isleworth in 2001 with an outdoor court soon followed with an indoor, air-conditioned court,” said Wayne Sheffield, president and general manager.

Sheffield says Lewis has continued to foster the growth of padel at both the United States Tennis Association’s (USTA) National Campus by sponsoring the installation of padel and also at Tavistock’s Bahamian resort, Albany, with six outdoor courts, one indoor and two more planned due to its popularity.


Invented in the late 1960s in Mexico and very popular in Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, the first padel courts in the U.S. were built in 1993 and the grassroots growth in the U.S. has more recently been bolstered through the efforts of the United States Padel Association (USPA), which is sanctioned by the International Padel Federation (FIP) to be the official governing body of padel in the U.S.

Current President of the USPA and the Director of Padel at the USTA National Campus Marcos del Pilar, who periodically brings his energetic passion for padel to Isleworth as a guest instructor, explains the wide appeal of the game: “Padel combines the best of all the racquet sports: it’s fast, it’s easy to learn, it’s competitive. It’s social, the courts are beautiful, the turf is comfortable, and here’s the secret … Everybody looks good playing padel! Seriously, you play the game once or twice and you look like you’ve been playing it for years … you feel good!

“This is an amenity other clubs need to look at,” he says. “You can engage 12 members on three padel courts in roughly the same footprint as one tennis court where just two or four members play. It just makes good business sense to bring more people to the club. They’ll play padel, socialize and grab a drink and meal afterward, maybe visit the pro shop or book a spa treatment.”

Isleworth aims to provide an array of opportunities for members to pick up the racquet of their choice, and its racquets programming has been thriving under the energy of Director of Tennis Marco Herrera. In the past five years, the club has increased its coaching staff from three to five with three USTA Padel-certified coaches; they have added two tennis courts for a total of eight, which includes six green clay, one hard court, and one red clay court; and they converted an old swimming pool into an additional pickleball court.

The indoor, air-conditioned padel facility allows members to play through Florida’s heat and storms and also provides a venue for spin classes, junior tennis clinics, and as a multi- purpose building used for a variety of things. The club runs internal padel nights, mixed leagues, and friendly play as well as organizes and hosts regular away-day member trips to use the four outdoor courts at the nearby USTA’s National Campus in a fun up-and-down-the-courts format.

“Our padel court is used by elite athletes, casual players, and younger and older members alike. It really ticks the boxes of exercise, competition, and fun in a very social sport. We have an international membership who’ve been exposed to the game around the world and are great ambassadors for it, including an active South American segment group who frequently use the court—one female member recently played for Argentina in the Padel World cup—and many of our Australian golf pros love the sport,” Sheffield said.As padel continues to grow in popularity, Isleworth is considering plans to add additional outdoor courts. Tennis is still very popular at Isleworth and the club saw a significant increase in play during the pandemic with no signs of waning. With pickleball considered the fastest growing sport in the country and padel increasingly gaining traction, Isleworth’s leadership anticipates that the facilities and programming for all three racquet sports will continue to grow to accommodate this vital aspect of membership at Isleworth.